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The concept of self-efficacy was developed by Albert Bandura, who is known for developing the theory of social learning. That explains how children learn new behaviors through observation and role models. In the context of this theory, self-efficacy is defined as the belief that we will be successful to execute a particular task in a specific situation, in the case of sport psychology, regarding practice or competition scenarios.

Bandura identified four major factors that determine self-efficacy: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion and emotional arousal.  Performance accomplishment refers to the times we successfully executed a task and how it positively affects our belief to be successful again. Most sport psychologist get their athletes to reflect on performance accomplishments. What is called “reflective interview.”  The purpose of this is to make the athlete focus on all of the good things that they did during a performance rather than the moments they messed up, so they can recognize their abilities and carry this habit for their next performance.

Vicarious experience refers to the way we learn new moves and enhance our self-efficacy by observing the success of others that are significant to us.  This can be done by watching the performance of someone admired by the performer (role model).

Verbal persuasion refers on how verbal feedback from others significant to the athlete (i.e. coaches, parents, teammates, teachers, spectators, etc.) and the athlete themselves can affect self-efficacy.  The effectiveness of this tool relies first on who is the one giving feedback and how credible the athlete perceives it to be. Also, the proximity of verbal persuasion to the moment of performance has a great effect in the emotional state of the athlete, this would be a pep talk before the event to remind the athlete that they can do it.  Lastly, positive self-talk by the athlete can effectively enhance their confidence by triggering hormonal responses.

Emotional arousal refers on how we impact our self-efficacy by regulating our emotions to the requirements of the individual and the sport for optimum performance.  Different athletes have different levels of arousal to reach their best, and in jiu-jitsu that depends a lot on their strategies and personalities, so by regulating arousal to be in the individualized zone of optimal functioning, the athlete can focus better in their performance and increase their self-efficacy.

Bandura noted that the impact of these four factors on self-efficacy diminishes in the order of performance accomplishments > vicarious experience > verbal persuasion > emotional arousal.  In summary, the abstract idea of confidence relies first on concrete successful experiences, second on observing others being successful in the task we want to achieve and learn from them, third on the verbal feedback that we receive from others and ourselves when we perform a task or we are about to perform a task and fourth on the accuracy of the emotional state that we need to effectively perform the task.